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Thursday, April 25, 2024

The EduVerse with ProfessorJBA: It’s a bad system, not bad students!

Jason Allen
Jason Allen
Jason B. Allen is an educator and education reporter. He attended school in Atlanta, K-12, and is a graduate of the University of West Georgia and earned a B.A. in English and M.A. in special education.

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The number one problem that parents face with public education is the lack of focus on teaching the whole child. In most public-school districts, the schools are still run like a factory model. Children are treated more as a student ID number or product coming through an assembly line.

In the system, when children don’t align to the standards, they’re labeled as struggling, underperforming and then become bad students.

A bad system has forced generations of adults to believe that students are bad if they don’t measure up to standards of high stakes test data. These adults were once children in the same system.

It’s like a bad scam that parents continue to sign their children up for generation after generation. An old trick of the education system is to make parents feel that they aren’t doing enough when we pay taxes for a system to educate children.

However, for the last 20 years there have been consistent declining numbers in literacy proficiency. Changes in the system including the removal of critical positions, such as Reading Teachers, attributes to the lack of teaching and learning around the science of reading.

But the public education system isn’t preparing teachers to teach children how to learn or think. It’s not investing in the science of reading which we know works.

The system is preparing teachers to produce test scores in the name of data; data that has had a chokehold on innovation and needed upgrades to the way we’re teaching all students.

A system that is good for capitalism has proven to be a bad system that doesn’t work for all children.  

It’s not working because as we move gradually into an advanced technology society, today’s students are tired of walking in a straight line, taking classes that aren’t relevant and being told when they can or can’t go to the restroom.

The language we use in schools to address discipline and behavior is bad. It refers to and references children as delinquents and punishes them for doing normal, childlike behaviors, including talking, playing and laughing. Many Black and brown children are failed, over tested and underserved in public education and have been for many decades.

Data is a contact weapon used against Black and brown parents and students. Schools are collecting data on communities to determine the economic value of students. It’s used to categorize, separate and demean students. It’s often used to compare student ability on high stakes testing.

Children are made to feel “bad” about their performance constantly in school by not meeting the standard, the metric of the mark. The competitive atmosphere created in schools for students to race to the top, in efforts of us not leaving any children behind had caused educators to willfully focus on pushing graduation rates by any means necessary.

The reality is that a bad system keeps doing the same thing, and we’re expecting every child to read and succeed within it. 

We saw this during the pandemic. Virtual learning failed systemically across the nation because the system hasn’t done anything different than the 1920s. We’ve seen innovation with the growth of magnetic schools, freedom schools and other various school programs through school choice.

But even innovation within the old system doesn’t last too long without either failing or conforming back to a bad system.

Here’s how we can make a bad system work for all children.

  1. Ensure that parents, students and educators have a voice in the budget, policies and programming.
  2. Diverting more funds to direct school programming for students.
  3. Invest in equity, diversion and inclusion in every area of the school system.
  4. Provide more support to families with workforce development earlier than nineth grade.
  5. Treat students and families as paying customers.

The 2023 – 2024 school year is off to a fresh start for many children and families. I’m encouraging parents and guardians to remember that in order to change a system that has a bad history of failing children, is to stay engaged, empowered and encouraged to see your child(ren) excel.

Contact Indy Kids Winning reporter Jason B. Allen at jasona@indyrecorder.com . Follow him on Twitter ProfessorJBA.

Jason’s work is supported through a partnership between Indy Kids Winning and the Indianapolis Recorder. Visit indykidswinning.com to learn more.

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